Amanda Lemmond didn't have much to remember her late mother by. That is, until earlier this month, when she got a package with letters and mementos that her mom had left behind more than two decades ago.
On the Saturday following Mother's Day, a box arrived at Lemmond's Colorado home. Inside were photos, her birth certificate and letters from her mother, Barbara Jane Hyatt, who died from bone cancer 23 years ago.
"After my mom passed away, I was shipped around all over the country," said Lemmond, 33. "From Washington State to Texas, to Louisiana, to Texas, back to Washington, back to Texas — in and out of state care — foster care." The one connection she had to her mom was a stuffed bunny that Hyatt gave her one Easter.
But now she has so much more.
"These are glimpse into my past that I've sorely longed for, for over two decades now," Lemmond said, adding that she didn't even know the keepsakes existed until the executor of her mom's estate found them while moving and reached out to her.
Reading the letters, one of which was written just a month before her mother died, brought Lemmond to tears.
"Dear, Amanda. You know I really miss you and not being able to get up with you every day," that letter begins.
"Even if I'm not able to do anything with you, I still love you as much as ever," the letter continues. "You're very special to me honey, and don't you ever forget it."
"They're messages of love and hope and inspiration," Lemmond said. "A little bit of advice — some boy advice."
Indeed, Hyatt advised her daughter not to "get involved with any boys or men that hurt you or make you feel bad about yourself" in one of the letters.
She told her daughter not to settle for second best, not only in romantic relationships but also in friendships.
"Don't forget that ever and always know that there are nice people in this world. It just takes a lot of time to find them," the letter reads.
Lemmond said she plans to digitize all of the photos and letters and put the original copies in a scrapbook that she hopes the share with her own children.
"It's a connection to her that I never thought I'd have again," Lemmond said.